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Ukraine

Geopolitics

Why Macron's New EU Membership Scheme Is All About Appeasing Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a new European Political Community, with support from Germany's Olaf Scholz, that would include Ukraine in a second-tier union. No, this is not about European "core values" — it's just the latest attempt by the EU's two biggest players to be sure not to upset Vladimir Putin.

-OpEd-

KYIV — French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ukraine's accession to the European Union will take years, if not decades. He also proposed the creation of a new union on the continent — the European Political Community, which may include countries that must wait to join the EU, or which have left (like the UK).

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At the same time, according to Macron's plan, joining the new union will mean other states cannot gain membership to the European Union.

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How Millennials And Boomers See Putin's Nuclear Threats Differently

Baby boomers who grew up under the threat of nuclear armageddon warn against a nuclear escalation of the war in Ukraine. But the younger generations are not cowed by Putin's blackmail. And that’s a very good thing.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — It is a sentence that no German Chancellor had ever had to utter before. “I am doing everything I can to prevent an escalation that would lead to World War III. There must not be a nuclear war,” said Olaf Scholz.

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Sweden & NATO, Musk Pauses Twitter Buyout, Black Hole Picture

👋 Hæ hæ!*

Welcome to Friday, where reports say Sweden could follow Finland’s lead to join NATO, Elon Musk puts buying Twitter on hold, and we catch a first glimpse of a black hole that’s living next door. Meanwhile, French economic daily Les Echos shines a light on the dubious working and sourcing practices of Shein, the Chinese fast-fashion superstar retailer.

[*Icelandic]

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War In Ukraine, Day 79: Sweden May Decide Monday To Join NATO Too

A leading Swedish daily says the government will move toward a decision over the weekend, with the formal application coming as soon as Monday evening. This follows the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow.

Sweden is to send in a formal NATO application on Monday, Swedish daily Expressen reported on Friday citing anonymous government sources. The news comes on the heels of the announcement Thursday that neighboring Finland would seek membership in the Western military alliance, which both countries had long rejected to avoid provoking Moscow that has been reconsidered following the invasion of Ukraine.

Expressen, a sometimes sensationalist tabloid that nevertheless often breaks big stories, says that Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson will call a government meeting Monday, where the historic decision on whether to join NATO will be made. If nothing unforeseen takes place, the report says Sweden plans on submitting the formal application late Monday.

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On Sunday Andersson’s Social Democrats party will decide whether or not to back the initiative which will be crucial in the final government decision. While leftist parties, including the Greens, do not want to give up on Sweden’s neutrality, the Social Democrats are expected to back the NATO plan.

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In The News

Russia Warns Finland Over Joining NATO

Sharing an 800-mile border with Russia, the Nordic country has seen public support for NATO membership skyrocket following the invasion of Ukraine. Neighboring Sweden also looks set to join the military alliance later this month. Both countries had for decades avoided NATO membership for fear of provoking Russia.

Finland looks certain to join NATO after the country’s president and prime minister released a joint statement saying they are in favor of joining the military alliance.

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“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. NATO leaders indicated that the application would be approved rapidly.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned "corresponding symmetrical responses on our side," to Finland's accession to the military alliance.

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Society
Dariya Badyor and Kseniya Bilash

Beyond Post-Soviet: Ukraine's Architectural Opportunity From The Rubble Of War

The war rages on, but some in Ukraine are already looking to how society can be rebuilt. Two Ukrainian architects share their vision for what a future Ukrainian urbanism — and society — might look like.

KHARKIV — Russian bombings have already destroyed thousands of Ukrainian houses, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. The war is still far from over, so we know the losses will only increase. And yet, we must use the time before victory arrives to plan for the rebuilding of our cities.

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This viewpoint is shared by Iryna Matsevko and Oleg Drozdov, heads of the Kharkiv School of Architecture, one of the few Ukrainian universities recognized internationally as meeting the highest standards in the field. The architects share their opinion that not just Ukrainian houses should be restored — so too should Ukrainian society.

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In The News
Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Territory Gains And Losses Point To Long War

Russia says it has conquered new territory in Donbas, while Ukraine says it has retaken parts of the city of Kharkiv. The competing claims come as Vladimir Putin appears to be bracing for a long "protracted" conflict.

Some press reports come from the battlefield, some come from headquarters.

The latter was the source for the lead story in today’s The New York Times that declared “Ukraine War’s Geographic Reality: Russia Has Seized Much of the East,” based on an assertion of the Russian Defense Ministry that “its forces in eastern Ukraine had advanced to the border between Donetsk and Luhansk,” the two provinces of Donbas.

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The article continues with an important caveat: “If confirmed,” the report signals that Russia could soon gain control over the entire Donbas region, which could put Moscow in position to force Kyiv to agree to its terms at the negotiating table.

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Geopolitics
Benjamin Quénelle

Meet The Russians Protesting The War At Their Peril

Despite legal threats or worse, a notable minority of Russians, from students to elected officials, are finding ways to oppose the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, many others have left the country since the war began, creating a brain drain that could last for many years.

MOSCOW — On this Wednesday in the middle of spring, Valeria Pasternakova and Polina Petrova, both in their twenties, are in a small courtroom of the municipal tribunal of Khamovniki, a district near the center of Moscow. A banal case before an administrative judge offers a view into the judicial absurdity that Vladimir Putin's opponents face.

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All over Russia, those opposed to the "special military operation" in Ukraine finds different ways to express themselves. But many end up in court.

The lawyer asks questions to the police officer who wrote the protocol for the students' arrest. Seated opposite of Valeria and Polina, he is nervous and vague in his answers. The judge, in her sixties, is protecting him: She rejects questions and requests with evasive glances and pouting. She yawns, showing impatience and boredom, when Polina Petrova, in her energetic plea, looks at her straight in the eyes.

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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage, Emma Albright

Is Odessa The Next Mariupol?

Other top news breaking: UN says civilian toll much higher, Moscow metro workers may be forced to fight, Lithuanian Parliament calls war "genocide", special Pulitzer for Ukrainian journalists, and more.

A new Russian overnight offensive aimed at the southern port city of Odessa may signal a new focus in the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian newspaper Pravda reports that at least one person was killed and five injured as Russian rockets pounded Ukraine’s third largest city, targeting a shopping center and a depot and leaving emergency services scrambling to put out fires and rescue civilians.

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These are not the first attacks by Russian missiles on the city, but officials imposed martial law for the first time yesterday.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

So May 9 Has Passed? Why We Should Watch Putin Now More Than Ever

It’s a grim reality from Soviet times that Vladimir Putin continues to embody: Individual horrors and monumental changes of history happen without fanfare.

-Essay-

All the worst news from the Kremlin happens on some faceless Tuesday or Thursday. It happens in a room you will never see.

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And so it was never going to be this Monday, as much of the Western media was predicting. It was never going to be in Red Square. That’s just not the way the Kremlin works.

The world had been told that May 9, Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration, was the perfect time for Vladimir Putin to make some sort of loud, momentous statement that would change the course of the war in Ukraine. His address might include an official declaration of war, call on Russians for a national mobilization, state his readiness to use nuclear weapons — or even just announce that he’d won the war.

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet.

Victory Day In Russia And Ukraine, Sri Lanka PM Resigns, Bitcoin Sinks

👋 ສະບາຍດີ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Putin blames the West for the war but makes no major announcement, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister resigns amid weeks of unrest, and Bitcoin keeps sinking. Persian-language media Kayhan-London also looks at how, despite the Ukraine conflict, Iran isn’t budging on its nuclear ambitions.

[*Sabaidee - Lao, Laos]

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In The News
Anna Akage, Sophia Constantino and Emma Albright

"Nazi," "Evil," "Victory" - Putin And Zelensky Face Off For May 9

Also making news: Russian parents search for soldier sons, school bombing toll rises, Bono, Justin Trudeau, Jill Biden visits, Mariupol 4--year-old separated from mother, hacking Russian TV...

Today’s date May 9, marked annually in both Russia and Ukraine to commemorate the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi forces during World War II, has taken on additional meaning this year as the war in Ukraine rages on.

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While weeks of speculation fizzled that Russia would have used the date for a major announcement about the war, there was much to unpack from the occasion.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Russkiy Mir Or Bust? How Putin's "Russian World" Will Backfire In An Epic Way

Under Putin, the phrase "Russkiy Mir," translated as "Russian world" but also "Russian peace," has driven Kremlin's foreign policy. It's built on the idea of a civilization that stretched well beyond Russia's borders, but it is Putin himself dooming Moscow to fade in importance, and the ancient capital of Kyiv to rise from the ashes.

-Essay-

The phrase “Русский Мир” (Russkiy Mir — “Russian world”) has appeared frequently in statements by Vladimir Putin and his top henchmen to justify the invasion of Ukraine. It’s the idea that Russia is not just a nation-state, but a civilizational-state with an important role to play in world history.

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In Putin’s vision, the Kremlin has a duty to protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers all over the world, including in the former Soviet republics.

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In The News
Irene Caselli, Anne-Sophie Gominet, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

A Donbas Quagmire? Running Out Of Water, Supplies, Men

As Russian forces continue their offensive in Donbas without securing any significant territorial gains, the situation on the ground is growingly dire for civilians left behind.

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Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg reports on significant water, food and other supply shortages in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic. Tap water has been scarce since the beginning of Russian occupation on February 24, and it is now available only every three days. Residents collect rainwater or otherwise buy it when they can afford to.

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In The News
Emma Albright, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet.

Zelensky Pleads For Mariupol Ceasefire, Otoniel Extradited, Maradona’s Jersey

👋 Bonghjornu!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the Ukrainian President asks for a truce to evacuate civilians from Mariupol as Russia intensifies its assault on the Azovstal plant, Colombia extradites the world’s most dangerous drug trafficker and Diego Maradona's “Hand of God” jersey sets a record. Meanwhile, Buenos Aires-based daily Clarin looks at how the trend in dieting changes and diversification reflect inequalities in Argentine society.

[*Corsican]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Alfred Hackensberger

In Donbas, A Resort Town Becomes The New Frontline

The battle for the Donbas is being waged across small villages in what is commonly known as “Ukrainian Switzerland” are now paying the price for Russia’s defeat in Kyiv, risking to forever change this longtime tourist destination.

SVIATOHIRSK — A few kilometers from this quaint village, internet and cell phone reception has suddenly vanished. Clouds of smoke rise from the region's familiar pine forests that stretch deep green to the horizon. The village of Sviatohirsk has indeed long been a holiday destination in the north of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, commonly known as “Ukrainian Switzerland”.

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A special attraction is a 17th century monastery with its gold roofs perched on white rocks on the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River. For generations, Ukrainians would come here for vacation.

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